$3.3M simulation lab to train VA health workers

A new $3.3 million simulation laboratory will train thousands of VA health workers and others throughout Ohio at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

The sprawling medical center also rolled out a $1 million mobile training laboratory, a one-of-a-kind vehicle found nowhere else within the VA’s vast nationwide hospital and clinic network, officials said Friday.

The 138-year-old medical campus also launched a virtual medical center to educate and treat patients and to train health care employees, but the project remains in development, officials said.

The simulation center inside the Dayton VA covers 17,000-square-feet with six simulation rooms, eight other medical-education-related rooms and a 125-seat auditorium.

“This is a very unique simulation center in that we really have the full spectrum of offerings,” said Dr. Rosalyn P. Scott, a VA medical advisor and brainchild behind the project.

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Once the site of a Wright State University animal lab, today it’s filled with mannequins and electronic patient monitors to train health care workers, from cardiologist fellows to nurse practitioners. It also has nursing stations and supply rooms for medicine and equipment.

“We really can replicate not just the room the patient is in, but we can replicate the whole system,” Scott said.

“Really, just about every technique used in modern simulation is in this building,” said Dr. Margaret M. Dunn, dean of the Wright State Boonshoft College of Medicine and a former VA surgeon.

In one simulation room, heart doctors in training can detect if a lifelike mannequin is having a heart attack and insert a heart stent and monitor vital information on a sonogram that peers inside a “patient’s” chest.

“The biggest benefit is you can practice and do no harm to a patient,” said Michael Stogsdill, a former Dayton VA simulation manager who demonstrated the technology. “If you make a mistake, you can reboot the computer and start over again.”

‘They actually become better practitioners at what they do because they’ve been able to see what they do (and) how people help them do it better,” Scott said. “And they’re also able to learn new skills in a safe, supportive environment rather than trying out something new practicing on a patient.”

To expand the number of people who are trained, the mobile lab will travel to VA hospitals throughout Ohio and parts of Indiana and Kentucky. “This is a very good example of being able to operate as an integrated network,” said Jack Hetrick, director of the VA Healthcare System of Ohio.

Inside a 47-foot long trailer are two simulation stations outfitted with human-like mannequins and a debriefing room where students review video recordings of how they performed.

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